Best Bento Box for Toddlers [Eat Healthy & Happily]

What's Covered

Preparing your toddler’s meal for daycare or school shouldn’t be so hard. As parents, you’re constantly on the search to make things easier for things like meal preparations. A bento box could be the solution. Their compartments will let you know just how much to serve. You can also encourage your child to eat more when they see that their food is arranged in a thoughtful and creative way. They are a great way of combining convenience and the conscious effort of providing the best nutritional value for your toddlers.

What is a Bento Box?

As a container, a bento or a bento box has compartments for different types of food. Bento boxes are made of different materials like bamboo, glass, lacquered wood, plastic, and even stainless steel. As a meal itself, a bento consists of different varieties of food. For example, in Japan, it usually includes rice, vegetables, and meat.

Where did they come from?

Bento boxes originated from Japan, but the term was inspired by the slang Chinese word biàndāng, which means convenient[1]. Their origin can be traced all the way back to the fifth century. From dried rice kept in bags for day workers, the meal transitioned to boxed meals prepared for outdoor activities like picnics. Centuries later, when microwaves were invented, bento boxes became available options from train stations and convenience stores.

The bento box at present

Now, bento boxes are seen as thoughtfully created lunch boxes for children and adults. As part of the Japanese culture, it can be classified into many styles, such as ekiben and kyaraben[2]. Ekiben are often seen at train stations. Examples of kyaraben are popular online because the ingredients are made to look like characters or other objects. 

Toddler Nutrition

Some toddlers have big appetites while others do not. There are also picky eaters who prefer to eat one thing all the time. Each child is unique and their diets are different too. But how much is enough for your growing toddler’s tummy and appetite?

How much food should I give my toddler?

Since toddlers are physically smaller than adults, they do not need as much food in one serving. In fact, according to healthychildren.org from the American Academy of Pediatrics, your child should have approximately one-fourth of an adult’s serving[3].

There are five food groups – grains, fruits and vegetables, milk and alternatives, meat and other sources of protein, and fats and sugars[4]. For each food group, your toddler should receive a certain number of portions per day. It’s also important to take note of the portion size for your toddler.

Recommended portions for your toddler

Grains will be the bulk of your child’s diet. Your little one needs six servings a day – a slice of bread, a tablespoon of cereal, and a tablespoon of potato, rice, or pasta. Your child will need 5 servings of fruits and vegetables in a day. A tablespoon of vegetables per meal and a portion of fruit that will fit in the palm of your child[5].

Your toddler needs three portions of dairy and fats and sugars in a day. Try giving him milk, 100 grams of yogurt, and 20 grams of cheese. For the latter, as a basis, you can give 1 teaspoon of butter or honey. Finally, your child needs two servings of protein per day. You can give a tablespoon of minced eat, half a chicken breast, two tablespoons of beans, and an egg.

Bento Boxes for your Toddler

                The different compartments of a bento box make it the ideal container for your toddler’s meals. You can place just the right number of grains, fruit, vegetables, and other snacks. Now, it’s time to choose the bento box for your little one.

What should I look for?

When looking for a bento box for your toddler, you would want something of the right size for their little hands – something that they can easily open too. Durability and make are important too. You would need something that is sturdy and can last several years, even if they are already in the first or second grade. Finally, something that is easy to clean and maybe microwave, dishwasher, or freezer safe as well.

Easy-to-Open Bento Boxes

If you’re sending your toddler to daycare or school, encourage their independence with an easy-to-open bento box. These bento boxes all have easy-open snaps or latches. Plus, their lids are made to match the compartments so these are leakproof. The lids are also attached to the body of the bento box which means your toddler will not lose the lid of his lunchbox.

Bentgo Kids

Bentgo Kids has five compartments including one for at least two tablespoons of sauce – yes, you can add dips to your toddler’s snack. Although it’s a little heavy –a little over one pound, you can choose from different designs and it has a drop-resistant rim.

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Bentgo Kids Childrens Lunch Box
Bentgo Kids is ideal for toddlers because it comes with a drop-resistant rim. No need to worry about accidental bumps and drops because your bento box is protected.

YumBox Original

YumBox Original is a six-compartment bento lunchbox perfect for your toddler.. It comes with an educational tray for portions.

Personally, I’ve seen my toddlers bring smaller sized YumBoxes to class. They’re perfect for smaller portions. For something more compact, try the YumBox MiniSnack.

Yumbox Original Leakproof Bento Lunch Box
The YumBox Original is an easy-open bento box for your little one. It is a little over one pound and is wide enough to be held by your child’s still growing hands. He can hold this bento box easily and it will also fit in his cute little school bag.

Simple Modern Porter Bento Box

Simple Modern has its own bento box for toddlers and older children. It comes with five compartments and weighs 1.75 pounds. Although on the heavy side, you can choose different colors and designs. What’s more is that when you buy from them, part of the profit they make is donated to non-profit organizations.

Simple Modern Porter Kids Bento Box
The Simple Modern Porter Kids Bento Box is a leak free lunchbox for your toddlers. It’s perfect for school snacks and even quick, ready-to-eat meals with the family.

Kinsho Toddlers 5 Portion Control Sections

Kinsho’s five-portion bento box is made of BPA-free plastic. It comes with a removable tray and is top dishwasher and microwave safe. It is also drop-resistant, which means this bento box can last a long time with your little one. Choose from the designs they offer like dinosaurs or unicorns.

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Dinosaur Bento Lunch Box
The Kinsho Bento Box (Dinosaur or Unicorn Bento Lunch Box) is great for your little boy or girl. Pack a delicious snack fit for each compartment. You can easily put this bento box inside its matching lunch bag or any other lunch bag that your child has.

Bizz Bento Box

Bizz Bento Box is a portable bento box designed for children – including toddlers. It’s also considerate of parents because it has a removable tray for easier cleaning and is top dishwasher safe. The tray can also be microwaved for times your child has a hot meal.

Lightweight Bento Boxes

                The next set of bento boxes are lightweight. They are all made of BPA-free plastic and unlike the first batch of bento boxes, these come with removable lids and even some removable compartments.

Lucentee Bento Lunchbox

Meal-planning has become easier for parents with this Lucentee Bento Lunchbox. It comes in a set of seven and has different colored lids. With three compartments, it’s easy to separate your child’s food while thinking about how much he will get.

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Bento Lunch Box
The bento lunchbox from Lucentee will save you time and money. These are ideal for busy parents who still want to ensure that their children eat only the best of what they prepare.

LocknLock Square Divider

A classic kitchen staple in plenty of households, LocknLock has its own version of a bento box. With its signature rubber stopper on the lid, food will not spill from the inside. What’s more, you can choose from three sizes to match the appetite of your little one.

Easy Lunchboxes Snack Box Containers

These bento containers come in a set of four, each with four compartments. Easy Lunchboxes Snack Box Containers have bright lids that can be interchanged among containers. For busy parents, this can make the difference for storage options.

EasyLunchboxes - Bento Snack Boxes
If you want a bento box that has equally divided compartments, consider these Easy Lunchboxes bento containers. Two compartments make up one cup, which is perfect for your toddler’s diet.

SkipHop Zoo Little Kid Lunch Kit

The SkipHop Zoo lunch kit can fit in its matching lunch bag or any other lunch bag that you have at home. Your toddler will also be able to manipulate the container by himself because of its easy snap clips. Encourage your toddler to take charge of his or her meals.

Skip Hop Toddler Mealtime Lunch Kit
SkipHop’s lunch kit has a several bright and colorful animal faces to choose from. All perfect for your toddler. These containers will also encourage independent eating because of the removable snack container available in the set.

Stainless Steel Options

The material of a bento box is important, especially if it’s for your toddler. Not only should the bento be safe from accidental bumps and falls, it should also be safe for the food. The previously mentioned bento boxes are all made from non-toxic, BPA-free plastic. The following brands are all stainless steel. Although not microwaveable, they are an ecofriendly and long-lasting option.

Bentgo Kids Stainless Steel

Some parents opt for the stainless steel option for their children’s lunch containers, but not all of them are spill proof. This Bentgo Kids Stainless Steel bento box is one of the few, perhaps, the only stainless steel option that is leakproof.

Bentgo Kids Stainless Steel
This stainless steel option is perfect for your toddler because it is leakproof. Not only is it a good choice for the environment, but you’ll be sure that your child’s lunch will be okay inside.

Planetbox Shuttle Stainless Steel Lunchbox

Packing your child’s meal couldn’t be easier with this stainless steel bento box. With two compartments and a removable, leakproof sauce container, you’re sure to provide just the right amount of food for your little one. You can also add to the fun with the tray magnets. There are different designs to choose from.

PLANETBOX SHUTTLE
Serve just the right amount of food for your toddler with this stainless steel bento box. Mealtimes will become more fun with the tray magnets. Challenge your child to finish his food so he can see what’s hiding under it all.

Innobaby Din Din Smart Stainless Platter

Do you hear that? Your child’s food is coming through! This Din Din Smart Stainless Platter is actually not shaped like your common bento box, but it still has different compartments. Each compartment is measured for just the right amount of food for your tot.

Innobaby Din Din Smart Stainless Divided Platter
Don’t be fooled, your child’s food will stay in place in this stainless steel platter. Your little one will look forward to meals with this unique tray. You can also encourage your picky eaters to finish their food by naming the different parts of the bus.

LunchBots Small Protein Packer

The LunchBots Small Protein Packer is the preferred size for toddlers. There are other available sizes from the brand, but for your little one, this size is suggested. There’s enough space for one serving of all your child’s needs like protein, fruits, vegetables, and even dairy – cheese.

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LunchBots Small Protein Packer Toddler Bento Box
This size of this stainless steel bento box is perfect for your toddler. Serve up all his favorite food in these compartments. Plus, for an easy clean-up, this bento box is top dishwasher safe. Something that busy or on-the-go parents are looking for.

Glass Options

Although glass bento containers are not an option for most parents, here are a few worth considering. Introducing glass food containers to your little ones can teach them to be careful of their things. It’s a bit tricky, but this option is a teachable moment for all.

Glass Meal Prep Containers

These Glass Meal Prep Containers come in a set of five. It can be used by anyone in your family, from the tiniest to the tallest members. There are three compartments for portion control and colored lids for easier identification.

5 Pack Glass Meal Prep Containers
Glass Meal Prep Containers are possible options for your toddlers. Although made of glass, your child’s food can still be packed in them. You and your child could practice eating together using these containers. Bring them out to picnics or to other outdoor activities.

Prep Naturals Glass Meal Prep Container

The rubbers on the lid of these containers help keep your food in. Something that will be really useful for your toddler. Encourage your child to eat well-portioned meals with this glass meal prep container from Prep Naturals.

Prep Naturals Glass Meal Prep Containers
Using a bento box made from glass is nerve-wracking for most parents, but it has its positives too. A clear bento box made of glass makes it easier for your child to see what he is having for lunch.

Bentgo Glass

Bentgo also has a glass option for bento boxes. You can also choose between a two-compartment or a three-compartment bento box. What’s great about this bento box is it’s oven safe and can withstand up to 1100 degrees Fahrenheit. So if your child needs to reheat a meal, just pop off the lid and place this in the oven.

Bentgo Glass Snack
Another ecofriendly option made available by Bentgo. Help your child learn about taking care of his things by using a glass bento box. He can learn about being gentle when handling his food so that he doesn’t drop it. Your child can also be aware of being gentle with his bag too because his glass bento box is inside.

Hot and Cold Options

Each family prepares food differently. If you have toddlers who enjoy either hot or cold meals, these bento boxes might be the perfect match for them.

Bentgo Kids Chill

This Bentgo Kids Chill is similar to the Bentgo Kids. The only difference is that it comes with a removable ice pack. If you want to serve something a bit cold to your child, just place the ice pack in the freezer and snap it on under the tray before sending your child off to school or daycare.

Bentgo Kids Chill Lunch Box
There’s no need to worry about your child’s food getting warm as lunch time gets closer. This bento box comes with a removable ice pack. If you’re looking to keep something chilly like fruits or cheese, definitely consider this bento box.

OmieLife OmieBox

If your little one loves to eat warm food like pasta or soup, this bento box is the one you need! The OmieBox comes with a removable, leakproof thermos food jar. Place it in the compartment and seal it and your child will be able to have his hot meal while in school.

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OmieBox Bento Box for Kids
Not only will your child enjoy a hot meal made with love from home in the thermos food jar, but he can get other servings of food as well. The sides even fit one small carton of milk or your child’s favorite yogurt pouch.

Other Interesting Features

Our last list consists of bento boxes with interesting features. Some come with utensils, some are customizable, and one is even collapsible. Different options for different children and their families.

PlusPoint Leakproof Bento Lunch Box

This PlusPoint Leakproof Bento Lunch Box made the list because it comes with two containers, each with four leakproof compartments, and a spoon. The spoon actually fits in the lid which makes preparing your child’s meal easier for you.

Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Set
This bento box comes with a spoon. Work your toddler’s fine-motor skills by encouraging him to eat with utensils. Although, eating with his fingers is something still convenient for him.

Jeopace Bento Box

Another bento box that comes with utensils, this time, a spoon and a fork. The utensils will be placed under the lid, so this bento box might be for older toddlers.

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Bento Box for Kids
This bento box is great for toddlers because they will learn an important life skill. Since this set comes with a bento box and utensils, your child can learn how to eat with both a spoon and fork. This is something that he will definitely need as he grows older.

Caleb Company Bento Boxes for Kids

The bento boxes from Caleb Company is flexible for your meal preparation needs. The compartments are removable, so you can adjust the amount of food your child will be getting.

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Caleb Company Green Bento Boxes
Add or subtract compartments in this customizable bento box. Adjust the portions for your child as he and his appetite grow bigger.

PackIt Flex Bento

PackIt Flex Bento is another customizable bento box. However, this one has a removable container and flexible dividers. You can bend the dividers to make corner compartments if needed.

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PackIt Flex Bento
If you have food that is a bit too big and can’t fit in a compartment of a bento box, this is the solution. PackIt Flex Bento comes with adjustable dividers so you can decide how big, small, long, or short your food will look like.

Smart Planet Collapsible Eco Meal Kit

This bento box not only comes with a utensil that nests in the lid, but it is also collapsible. This makes for easy storage for busy parents who want clear countertops and organized kitchens.

Smart Planet Collapsible Eco Meal Kit
Parents, you no longer have to worry about bulky food containers with this bento box. It is collapsible so storage will be easy and convenient. Plus, you still get to monitor how much your child eats with its three compartments.

Final Thoughts

As parents, we only want what’s best for our little ones. With so many options available, it’s important to remember a few things. Choose what works best for your family and your lifestyle, don’t over complicate things. Second, think long-term, try to buy something that your child can use for the next few years. You can teach them how to be accountable for their belongings. Finally, try getting your family involved in meal preparations. Start them young and this can be the start of a new family bonding experience.


[1] Buck, Stephanie. “The Controversial History of the Bento Box – Timeline.” Medium, 5 June 2018, timeline.com/bento-box-history-27b04153c6f6.

[2] Coto Academy. “The Origins of the Traditional Japanese Bento” Coto Japanese Academy, 6 Oct. 2020, cotoacademy.com/traditional-japanese-bento.

[3] American Academy of Pediatrics. “Serving Sizes for Toddlers.” HealthyChildren.Org, 7 Mar. 2016, www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/toddler/nutrition/Pages/Serving-Sizes-for-Toddlers.aspx.

[4] Warwickshire Dietetic Service. Recommended Intake and Portion Sizes for Children. Warwickshire, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, 2016.

[5] Recommended Intake for Children. Warwickshire, South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, 2016.

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Author

Vivian Perry

Vivian Perry

Mother of 3 kids. Enjoy reading parenting books and studied child care degree. Vivian loves to learn and write about parenting tips and help her kids to grow positively with grit mindset.

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